A UVM Fraternity Problem

SigEpUVM

In the annals of bad fraternity news, this is press that no Greek house wants. According to an article by Mike Donoghue, Joel Banner Baird, and Adam Silverman in the Burlington Free Press:

A survey that asked fraternity members at the University of Vermont about their preferred rape victim, allegedly circulated by members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, has resulted in the fraternity’s suspension and a visit from its national headquarters, according to university officials.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon survey question was: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?” according to an email from the organization FedUp Vermont and several online blogs. Other blogs listed slightly different wording.

While the fraternity has been suspended and its members “will be prohibited from having meetings or hosting events,” the students can still live in the house which, after all, the University of Vermont doesn’t own.

The question was apparently part of a larger survey written by one Sig Ep brother and sent to other members. Apparently a UVM student made UVM officials aware of the survey over the weekend.

According to the Free Press article:

The matter has been forwarded to campus police to determine if there is a criminal aspect to the incident, Thomas J. Gustafson, vice president for student and campus life, said Tuesday.

That one question on the survey is surely disgusting and very offensive but it seems pretty difficult to understand how one could ever derive a “crime” from this survey.

This is the second time the UVM fraternity (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention I pledged a dozen years ago) has been in major trouble. In 1993 the national chapter of the fraternity revoked Sig Ep’s charter because hazing allegations put the fraternity at risk of a lawsuit.

The UVM chapter regained its charter in 1997. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer